Plugin Updates – Fast Secure Contact Form and Google XML Sitemaps

Protecting Your Blog Forms and Promoting Your Website

Unfortunately there are no shortage of places for hackers and spammers to attempt to harm your website. This has always been an issue since the beginning of the Internet and it will likely never truly go away.

In this post here: Combating Link Spam and Spam Bots, we took a look at a couple other plugins (Captcha and Bad Behavior) that can help cut-down on spam issues for your site. Those plugins were both stand alone plugins that integrate well with most any website.

Today we are going to take a look at another plugin that will also help combat spamming related issues, Fast Secure Order Form.

Also, since we have been discussing that promoting your website is important (but also likely will increase your spam issues), we will also take a look at Google XML Sitemaps.

 

Fast Secure Contact Form

All WordPress sites will use at least a hanful of forms, most notably the login and password forms. Now if those are the only forms you use on your website, by all means go get the Captcha plugin and call it a day.

If however you are using your own forms, such as a contact us page, a signup form or any kind of landing pages, then consider grabbing this plugin.

The Fast Secure Contact Form plugin allows you to create forms for your WordPress blog. These forms can be as simple or complex as you decide to make them. The feature list is quite extensive but here are a few key items we like:

  • Easily create, add, remove, or modify form fields
  • backup and restore forms
  • drop and drag interface options
  • Integrated Captcha and Akismet support
  • Add File attachments to forms
  • Form redirects
  • online scheduling using vCita
  • Security Minded: (Akismet, Form posts from blog domain only, Spam checking)
  • and much much more

The author has been busy updating this plugin over the last year and willl likely continue to do so in the suture. There is an active support community around the use of this plugin (with over 5 million downloads).

We were excited to see much needed features such as a “Honey Pot” field. In case your not sure what that is, it is just a field that cannot be seen by actual users. Scripts and spam bots will fill in this hidden field whereas a live use would not. This one key feature helps you to filter out a large number of form spam from your sites.

  • Version: 4.0.30
  • Author: Mike Challis, Ken Carlson
  • Last Updated: 9-23-2014
  • Requires WordPress Version:3.4.2 or higher
  • Compatible up to: 4.0
  • Average 5-Star Rating: 4.5

 

4.0.30

  • (23 Sep 2014) – Translated Spanish 100% (es_ES) – Translated by Manuel

4.0.29

  • (18 Sep 2014) – Fix the validate email function is updated for new generic top-level domains (gTLDs) released in 2014 and beyond. Allows up to 12 characters like .training, .photography, .company, etc.
  • Fix so honeypot field slug will never conflict with custom post types.
  • Add new feature for Default field properties: For the Default setting of a date field type, you can enter any date in the configured format. Or to show today’s date as default, just put the word today in brackets. example: [today].

4.0.28

  • (13 Sep 2014) – Fix error ‘Invalid argument supplied for foreach’ when add new form.
  • Increase z-index for the calendar pop up.
  • Updated Turkish language file.

4.0.27

  • (09 Sep 2014) – Fix ‘After form additional HTML’ was not printing on form.
  • Fix to check for conflicting post types and show a warning. None of the field slugs can be the same as a post type rewrite_slug or you will get “page not found” when posting the form with that field filled in. In this new version, if you have this conflict there will be a warning on the form and on the form edit page. Warning: one of your field tags conflicts with the post type redirect tag “tag name”. To automatically correct this, click the “Save Changes” button on the form edit page. Also the form editor will not let a conflict happen while editing, but a conflict can still happen if you add custom post types. So if you add any custom post types, be sure to check your forms for any warning messages.

4.0.26

  • (24 Aug 2014) – Added a new setting on the Advanced tab “Enable to prevent double click on submit button.” It is enabled by default. This setting disables the Submit button after click, to prevent double click on the button. Also prevents going back and submitting the form again. Note: this setting is ignored if the “Are you sure?” popup for the submit button is enabled, or when you have filled in the Submit button input attributes setting with a “onclick” attribute.
  • Fixed tags were sometimes showing in confirmation email.
  • Fixed Success page additional HTML shows outside of fieldset box.
  • Updated fscf-placeholders.min.js to version 3.0.2.
  • Updated Turkish language file

4.0.25

  • (11 Aug 2014) – Fix ‘Add New Field’ button not working on German translation. last fix was not working.

4.0.24

  • (10 Aug 2014) – Fix ‘Add New Field’ button not working on German translation.
  • Added Silent Conditional Field and value settings for the silent send feature on the Advanced tab. Use this optional setting to conditionally disable silent sending unless this field tag and value are selected and submitted. Example usage: Your form has a checkbox to “signup for our newsletter” with the tag “signup-newsletter”. You do a silent send to MailChimp to sign up people to the newsletter but you want to disable the silent send if the checkbox is left unchecked. For this example you will set the Silent Conditional Field to “signup-newsletter” and the Silent Conditional Value to “selected”, this will only match the field tag and value when the checkbox is selected on the form.

4.0.23

  • (05 Aug 2014) – Added “Success page additional HTML” setting to the Advanced tab. This is printed on the success page after the message sent text. Useful for tracking a conversion with Google Analytics. Put the Google Code for Conversion Page here. HTML is allowed.
  • Fixed email DNS check setting was ignored.

4.0.22

  • (29 Jul 2014) – Fixed support links

4.0.21

  • (21 Jun 2014) – Fixed broken “Disable email sending” for data export.
  • Better explanation of email settings.

4.0.20

  • (11 Jun 2014) – akismet 3.xx compatible.
  • Bug fix: ampersand and quotes were showing as entity in the To: name in the email.
  • Better explanation of an email setting.

4.0.19

  • (15 May 2014) – Removed themefuse ad (their site was flagged by Google as possibly infected).
  • Bug Fix: the ‘follow’ feature was not working correctly if fields were re-sorted.
  • New feature: When Name field is set to “First Name, Last Name” you can use the check box “inline” to get the last name to follow the first name on the same line.
  • tested for WP 3.9.1

 

Google XML Sitemaps

If you are not working to actively promote your website then in all honesty, why bother? If you are actively marketing your website and don’t have a sitemap plugin then perhaps you should rethink getting one.

Google is and will always be the “Big Dog” of the search engine world, unless something goes horribly wrong at Google, which is unlikely. With that being said, it is to your SEO benefit to actually learn how to “best play the Google Game”.

Google will always try to make it harder for people to manipulate their website rankings but at the same time they need to have websites to rank. This means that there will always be things that help and things that can hurt your website as far as Google is concerned.

This plugin generates a XML-Sitemap compliant sitemap of yourWordPress blog. This format is supported by Ask.com, Google, YAHOO and MSN Search.

 

More information about what XML-Sitemaps are and how they can help you to get indexed by the major search engines can be found at Sitemaps.org and the searchenginewatch blog.

A sitemap is basically a list of files on your website. Search engines use this list to see how frequently the site changes. As part of the indexing process the search engine will crawl through this list of pages and make note of those pages.

You can see our current sitemap here: http://shadowoodpress.com/sitemap.xml

If you were to look at it, you might notice that posts may not change frequently (depending upon comments) but the main website changes daily. This tells Google that the site is being updated and that they should crawl it more often.

This also helps in Google’s eyes as they are more likely to index active websites that are consistently producing content. Google places user experience at the forefront of their criteria for indexing content.

  • Version: 4.0.8
  • Author: Arne Brachhold
  • Last Updated: 11-15-2014
  • Requires WordPress Version: 3.3 or higher
  • Compatible up to: 4.1
  • Average 5-Star Rating: 4.5

 

New in Version 4.0.8 (2014-11-15):

  • Fixed bug regarding the exclude categories feature, thanks to Claus Schöffel!

New in Version 4.0.7.1 (2014-09-02):

  • Sorry, no new features this time… This release only updates the Compatibility-Tag to WordPress 4.0. Unfortunately there is no way to do this anymore without a new version.
  • New changes coming soon :)

New in Version 4.0.7 (2014-06-23):

  • Better compatibility with GoDaddy managed WP hosting
  • Better compatibility with QuickCache
  • Removed WordPress version from the sitemap
  • Corrected link to WordPress privacy settings (if search engines are blocked)
  • Changed hook which is being used for sitemap pings to avoid pings on draft edit

New in Version 4.0.6 (2014-06-03):

  • Added option to disable automatic gzipping
  • Fixed bug with duplicated external sitemap entries
  • Don’t gzip if behind Varnish since Varnish can do that

New in Version 4.0.5 (2014-05-18):

  • Added function to manually start ping for main-sitemap or all sub-sitemaps
  • Added support for changing the base of the sitemap URL to another URL (for WP installations in sub-folders)
  • Fixed issue with empty post sitemaps (related to GMT/local time offset)
  • Fixed some timing issues in archives
  • Improved check for possible problems before gzipping
  • Fixed empty archives and author sitemaps in case there were no posts
  • Fixed bug which caused the Priority Provider to disappear in recent PHP versions
  • Plugin will also ping with the corresponding sub-sitemap in case a post was modified
  • Better checking for empty external urls
  • Changed text in XSL template to be more clear about sitemap-index and sub-sitemaps
  • Changed content type to text/xml to improve compatibility with caching plugins
  • Changed query parameters to is_feed=true to improve compatibility with caching plugins
  • Switched from using WP_Query to load posts to a custom SQL statement to avoid problems with other plugin filters
  • Added caching of some SQL statements
  • Added support feed for more help topics
  • Added link to new help page
  • Cleaned up code and renamed variables to be more readable
  • Updated Japanese Translation, thanks to Daisuke Takahashi

New in Version 4.0.4 (2014-04-19):

  • Removed deprecated get_page call
  • Changed last modification time of sub-sitemaps to the last modification date of the posts instead of the publish date
  • Removed information window if the statistic option has not been activated
  • Added link regarding new sitemap format
  • Updated Portuguese translation, thanks to Pedro Martinho
  • Updated German translation

New in Version 4.0.3 (2014-04-13):

  • Fixed compression if an gzlib handler was already active
  • Help regarding permalinks for Nginx users
  • Fix with gzip compression in case there was other output before already
  • Return 404 for HTML sitemaps if the option has been disabled
  • Updated translations

New in Version 4.0.2 (2014-04-01):

  • Fixed warning if an gzip handler is already active

New in Version 4.0.1 (2014-03-31):

  • Fixed bug with custom post types including a “-“
  • Fixed some 404 Not Found Errors

New in Version 4.0 (2014-03-30):

  • No static files anymore, sitemap is created on the fly!
  • Sitemap is split-up into sub-sitemaps by month, allowing up to 50.000 posts per month! More information
  • Support for custom post types and custom taxonomis!
  • 100% Multisite compatible, including by-blog and network activation.
  • Reduced server resource usage due to less content per request.
  • New API allows other plugins to add their own, separate sitemaps.
  • Note: PHP 5.1 and WordPress 3.3 is required! The plugin will not work with lower versions!
  • Note: This version will try to rename your old sitemap files to *-old.xml. If that doesn’t work, please delete them manually since no static files are needed anymore!

New in Version 3.4.1 (2014-04-10):

  • Compatibility with mysqli